Tagged: space

Orbit of the newly-launched R3D2 satellite - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Apr 02, 2019

Last Friday Rocket Lab successfully launched another satellite from the Mahia Peninsula. In this post I describe the satellite’s orbital path, and how it will slowly vary in time over the next week.  Rocket Lab successfully launched another satellite into orbit from the Mahia Peninsula soon after midday last Friday (March 29th), a wonderful achievement. Well done to … Read More

The NZ Aerospace Challenge - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Mar 31, 2019

An open competition soon to start will provide a wonderful opportunity for smart people of any age in New Zealand to take on the challenge of how we might assess water and soil pollution using satellite and drone data. What they might choose to do in attacking such environmental problems is limited only by their imaginations, and technical capabilities. All … Read More

The Visibility of the Space Station - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Feb 22, 2019

The International Space Station (and many other satellites) can easily be viewed passing overhead using the naked eye, so long as you know when to look, and where. But why  can we see it, and how does it return so often?  In a blog post a few days ago I presented tables of times when the International Space Station (ISS … Read More

Times to Spot the Space Station - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Feb 19, 2019

It’s easy to see the International Space Station passing overhead: you just need to know when and where to look. Oh, and a clear sky. The International Space Station (ISS) regularly passes across New Zealand, a little more than 400 km above our heads – rather less than the distance between Auckland and Wellington. Most of these transits … Read More

The Nelson bush fire: What can satellite images tell us about such events? - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Feb 12, 2019

The ongoing fires in the Nelson-Tasman region have quite rightly provoked much alarm. The response of Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the NZ Police, the NZ Defence Force, and many private individuals, has been magnificent. However, the utilisation of satellite imagery for assessing such fires and then planning and responding is deficient in NZ compared to much of the rest … Read More

Satellite Orbits: Global Navigation Systems - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Feb 05, 2019

Apart from the US-provided Global Positioning System (GPS) used by most commercial navigation systems – such as in your car, or mobile phone – there are several distinct networks operated by other space agencies deploying their own satellite fleets. Here I describe the orbits employed by the Russian, European Union and Chinese GNSS constellations. (Part 3 in a series of … Read More

Harry Hindmarsh Atkinson: obituary - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Jan 27, 2019

Harry Atkinson in 2012 (courtesy William Tobin). Harry Atkinson was one of those able New Zealanders who went overseas to study, fully intending to return one day to these shores to live, but due to their great success in their adopted homelands never did so. A physicist by training, he moved into science advice and administration in Britain and … Read More

The invention of the geostationary communications satellite - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Jan 18, 2019

The idea of satellites beaming radio communications around the globe was discussed by science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke in 1945, though he imagined huge geostationary space stations permanently staffed by astronauts who would be needed to change the electronic valves in the onboard radio transmitters. We’ve not been able to watch live cricket matches from around the globe on … Read More

Satellite Orbits: Geostationary - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Jan 16, 2019

What sorts of orbits around Earth do we use for different types of satellite, and why are those paths chosen? In this, Part 1 in a series of blog posts, geostationary orbits are described. Satellites come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, ranging from half the size of a bus down to something not much … Read More